Objective C was used by Apple as the main programming language for macOS and iOS operating systems as well as their respective APIs (application programming interfaces). However, the company introduced Swift in 2014. Swift is now used in macOS and iOS environments as well. But Objective C is still widely used. Therefore, many people have asked whether they should use Objective C or Swift. Beginner developers also get confused whether they should learn Objective C or Swift in order to make macOS and iOS apps. Well, see the comparisons between the two programming languages below!
Learn Objective C or Swift?
If you are just about to begin and now wondering whether you should learn Objective C or Swift, well, you should learn both. But start with Swift.
Why? Apple hasn’t exactly switched because both Objective C and Swift can be used together. Swift uses the Objective C runtime library, which enables C, C++, Objective C, and Swift to run within the same program. See more about Objective C vs C++.
Swift, however, has been introduced partially to allow beginners and programmers from different backgrounds to develop macOS/iOS apps more quickly and more easily. But Objective C is still supported. There are some experienced developers who feel more comfortable with Objective C and thus don’t want to switch to Swift. You probably will come across legacy codes written in Objective C. Therefore, you can start with Swift, but you want to learn some Objective C along the way.
Is Objective C or Swift Actually Better?
Compared to Objective C, Swift is superior that it has better brevity and readability. You can easily read and understand its code, and you can write codes in Swift with fewer lines and with less time than in Objective C.
In addition, due to requiring fewer lines, programs written in Swift can actually run faster than programs written in Objective C. There are many tests and benchmarks that have shown such results.
Swift also comes with two notable improvements that make it safer and more efficient than Objective C. The first is the way it handles nil pointers. In Objective C, nothing will happen if you call a method with a pointer variable that is nil or uninitialized. This may lead to unpredictable behaviors, and thus is a huge source of bucks. In Swift, a nil value can be made very clearly, and it will generate a compiler error if you write bad code. Thus, Swift is generally safer than Objective C.
The second improvement is the memory management feature. Swift now has complete support for Automatic Reference Counting (ARC) in procedural and object-oriented code paths. Objective C only supports ARC in Cocoa APIs and object-oriented codes. This automatic and high-performance memory management has been proven to increase productivity.
|- Brevity and readability aren’t as good||- Better brevity and readability|
|- Relatively slower||- Faster|
|- Bad management of nil pointers||- Safer because it will tell you if there are nil pointers|
|- Only supports ARC in Cocoa APIs and object-oriented codes||- Supports ARC in procedural and object-oriented codes|
In general, Swift indeed offers many advantages over Objective C. It has better brevity and readability, it is safer, and it offers better performance and productivity. But you still need to learn some Objective C because both macOS and iOS still use the language and there are many legacy codes written in the language.